THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM
PART TWO – IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE SEED
So, last week, I began a new series on the kingdom of God entitled “The Mysteries of the Kingdom”—because, in my opinion, one of the most important things you and I can learn about God’s kingdom is how it operates. Yes, it is critical that we learn how things work in the kingdom of God.
You see, I have come to realize that this is one of the areas that most Christians are most ignorant in. But we need to understand that there are specific laws/principles that govern how His kingdom operates and that God is not just up in heaven arbitrarily doing everything He wants to do when He wants to do it. No, there is the law of sowing & reaping. Therefore, there is the role & responsibility we have in seeing His kingdom come and His will being done. But, unfortunately, most Christians do not realize this.
So essentially what is happening is they are living in the wilderness, depending on God to regularly perform miracles that meet their needs. But what they need is to move on into Canaan Land where they can sow in the promised land God has caused them to inherit and reap the benefits. This is where God intends for His children to dwell, but this is why the Lord through the prophet Hosea declared that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
You see, the truth is, just like we have natural laws that we must live by in this world in order to not only thrive but also survive, there are laws in God’s kingdom that we must learn to live by if we are to see God’s best produced in our lives. I am convinced that many of God’s people do not experience His perfect will for their lives because they have failed to operate under the laws that govern His kingdom. Some are simply ignorant concerning these principles while others are simply not doers of the Word. But the fact remains that God has set His kingdom up under certain principles and it is our job to walk in them just as He does Himself. When we do, we will get God’s results. When we do not, we will get the world’s results.
So, it for this reason that last week we began looking at what Jesus taught us about the kingdom of God—so that we can see how He said that it works so that we can get better results in our lives.
Therefore, over the next several weeks, I want us to look at the various parables Jesus taught in His earthly ministry in order to learn how God’s kingdom operates so that we can function under its laws. Jesus called this the mystery of the kingdom—that is, the hidden principles that govern how God’s kingdom works and operates, and He taught this mystery through these many different parables.
So, what we did last week was we began in Matthew chapter 13 where we have the most concise teaching by Jesus concerning these mysteries of the kingdom of God. But what we looked at is who the revelation of these mysteries was reserved for, and we saw that Jesus told His disciples— “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven …” We learned that the “you” here was Jesus’ disciples and not just your casual believer who comes to church once a week and never seeks the Lord on their own. It was not just those who showed some interest in the things of God, but those who wholeheartedly sought them. No, these mysteries of the kingdom were not revealed to those who showed some interest in His teachings; they were revealed to those who had left all to follow Him—His disciples!
We learned that the Greek word that was used to translate this word “mysteries” is the word musterian. This word described something that had been kept secret for ages but had now been disclosed to a certain group of people. Therefore, it is a secret known only to the initiated and something that required special revelation to know it. For this reason, it actually was a word used to describe the secrets only shared within a fraternal group or organization. Therefore, it was those who are true disciples who are the ones initiated into the secret things of the kingdom of God.
Now the reason we made this point is because if we want to truly understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God, we must adopt the lifestyle of a disciple because it was just these committed and dedicated believers who would be able to receive these marvelous secrets. Yes, becoming a disciple of the Word of God’s kingdom is a foundational key to understanding its mysteries and secret principles.
We also learned that the reason the casual hearer does not have God’s mysteries revealed to them is not because God is withholding the truth from them because they are not doing this or that. No, as we see Jesus saying in verses 12-13, it is because they disqualify themselves from knowing the truth through closing their eyes, ears, and hearts to it. So, it is not God who is withholding these mysteries from man; it is man who withholds them from himself.
Church, this is why it is so important that we maintain the heart of a disciple when it comes to the mysteries of God’s kingdom by seeking out those treasures and staying hungry for the truth. And we saw that the Word of God has a lot to say about things like hungering and thirsting for the things of God and seeking after them with all of our hearts: We looked at a couple of passages of Scripture in the Book of Proverbs and saw how wisdom reveals the benefits for those who wholeheartedly seek the Word of His kingdom. And by far the greatest benefit is that we come to know the mysteries of His kingdom! Amen.
THE LAW OF SEEDTIME & HARVEST
So now, let’s begin this week looking at these parables that Jesus taught us concerning the kingdom of God: And as we begin looking at the various parables that Jesus taught us concerning the kingdom of God, one thing that you will notice is that He uses the illustration of seedtime and harvest time and time again.
Now by virtue of the fact that this is one of the most oft used examples of the kingdom of God by our Lord, we can understand that the law of seedtime and harvest is the predominant principle governing God’s kingdom. Therefore, I believe we should place great significance on this kingdom principle simply because Jesus emphasized the law of seedtime and harvest time and time again.
But did you know that it wasn’t just Jesus who established this as a kingdom law, but God Himself clearly showed us that the law of seedtime and harvest is how things are going to work here on the earth? He sure did!
In the beginning, when God was creating the heavens and the earth, we are told that He created all things to reproduce after their own kind:
It “began” with the earth itself – In Genesis 1:10, we are told— “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so.” And it still is so—All the plants, trees, flowers, grass, etc. reproduces “according to its kind” after this law of seedtime & harvest.
But it didn’t stop there: After creating every living creature on the fifth day, God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22). How many of you know that this describes seedtime & harvest as well? That’s right—every living creature is a product of seedtime & harvest too.
And if all creatures are reproduced from a seed, then we must know that it is the same even with us: We see on day six that when God made man on day six, He created him to follow the same principle of “being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth.” (See Genesis 1:28). That means mankind was created to reproduce after its own kind too, just like the plants and just like the animals.
Therefore, everything from the most insignificant plant to the most well-know person are products of this law of seedtime & harvest. And as the Lord said to Noah in Genesis 8:22— “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” That means that we can count on the law of seedtime & harvest just like we count on varying temperatures, different seasons, daytime and nighttime.
But someone might say— “Yeah well, that’s how things might work in this world, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it works in God’s kingdom.” But that’s where they are wrong.
You see, everything in this natural, physical world reflects how things work in God’s kingdom (aside from all of the curse & sin found in this world). Yes, the earth and how it operates is the Lord’s taste. So, that means that all of the natural laws that we live under here on the earth, are God given principles. For example, we have the law of gravity, which governs how a lot of things on this world operate, and we learn quickly how to let gravity work for us and not against us. Therefore, if God says that the law of seedtime & harvest will govern things on this planet, then that is because that same law governs things in His kingdom. This is why I like to refer to the law of seedtime and harvest as the principle of the kingdom. This is why Jesus taught about the kingdom of God through these natural examples.
So, let’s get into one of these parables that teach us about this kingdom principle this week. And I’ll give you one guess which one we will start with (Anyone who knows me and has sat up under my teachings for some time ought to be able to get this). We are going to start with same parable Jesus started with— The Parable of the Sower.
THE KINGDOM FUNDAMENTALS
As we saw last week in Matthew’s account, Jesus begins His “Sermon by the Sea” by giving them the Parable of the Sower. This parable is, of course, what led to the question which Jesus’ disciples asked as to why He spoke to the crowds in parables (See last week’s message).
Now there is a reason that Jesus began with this particular parable in this chapter. And I believe it is because the Parable of the Sower is the most important parable concerning God’s kingdom. Again, because in it contains the kingdom principle.
One of the reasons that I believe that this parable is the most important parable of the kingdom of God is because of an important point found in Mark’s account. So, let’s look over there where we find that Jesus responded to His disciples’ question regarding this parable by asking them— “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13)
By asking these questions, Jesus was not saying they should understand this parable because it is the simplest to comprehend. No, He is asking the question— “How will you understand all the parables?”—because the Parable of the Sower is a foundational, fundamental parable. In other words, it is the foundational principle of the kingdom and must be understood in order to go further in the kingdom of God. Yes, saints, this principle of seedtime and harvest and how growth occurs in the kingdom of God is essential to producing fruit that endures in God’s kingdom. Amen!
And the reason Jesus saw this parable as so foundational is twofold:
Now those are two very important foundational truths, are they not? So, let’s look at how this foundational parable does indeed illustrate these two extremely important truths by looking at the beginning of this chapter where Jesus gives them His Parable of the Sower.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
In Mark 4:2, we are told— “Then He (Jesus) taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:”
Now Jesus specifically taught them 10 parables on that day. You don't see that if you read just one of the gospels, but if you combine Matthew, Mark, & Luke's accounts together, you will see that there were actually ten kingdom parables in all that Jesus taught them on that particular day.
Then in Mark 4:3, Jesus said, “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.”
Now notice the first word in this verse— "Listen": How many of you know that is a Word from God for some people? The Bible says to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19) but I guess most people are dyslexic because they read it the opposite—they think that we are to be quick to speak and slow to hear. And the truth is—this is the reason why so many know as little as they do.
Then notice the next word Jesus said— "Behold": So, after telling us to “listen,” Jesus says "Look!"—For the word “behold” means “to look.” So, Jesus essentially told His hearers to “Listen and Look!”
We know that everything Jesus said was important and should be heeded, but when the Master Himself says to “Listen & Look,” you have to know that this is something we need to hear and see in our hearts. Amen?
Then notice how Jesus went on to say, "A sower went out to sow …” (Verse 3). And I want you to see how the sower was intentional. Yes, he went out specifically for the purpose of sowing to get a harvest.
Have you ever noticed that you don’t just automatically have roses, lilies, watermelons, tomatoes, etc. growing in your yard? No, as a general rule, things we desire and are beneficial do not just automatically spring up in our gardens. But, on the other hand, undesirable plants and vegetation such as weeds, briars, tares etc. seem to just spring up everywhere on their own, don’t they?
Well, this illustrates to us how things work in God’s kingdom: Did you know that all we have to do to be carnal, selfish, walk in the flesh and produce the fruit of this world is NOTHING? On the other hand, in order to produce good fruit and to see the things we desire growing in our garden we have to be intentional, deliberate and purposeful to sow them into our garden. Amen? Therefore, we need to see ourselves as “sowers” and live purposeful lives of going to and fro sowing seed wherever we go.
But what I see happening in so many Christians is that they oftentimes want to see change, but they are basically doing the same thing—they are looking in their back yard and wondering why we don’t have desirable fruit growing there. Church, there are spiritual laws that we must abide by. But so many try to live their lives contrary. They want to live on the seeds sown by the man of God or others who will teach them, pray for them etc. But this is not how one will see consistent results in God’s kingdom. If we want to see abiding fruit in our lives, we need to learn to sow to the Spirit ourselves and not depend on the work of another person. And that is what I believe this parable is teaching us.
So, beginning in verse 4, Jesus then gives the people His Parable of the Sower saying, “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Verses 4-8).
We will get into more of the details of this parable next week, but I do want us to move into the very first part of Jesus’ interpretation of it, a very simple statement that contains many powerful truths.
Notice that Jesus began His interpretation of the Parable of the Sower by saying, “The sower sows the Word.” (Verse 14). Now the significance of this statement is so vital to understanding how the kingdom begins and continues to operate—because it all starts with a seed.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A SEED
Church, everything starts with a seed! Everything! You started with a seed. Each and every one of us started out as the seed from our father and then when that seed was “planted” in your mother, you were conceived.
It is the same spiritually—The new creation that we were born again as, started with a seed.
The apostle Peter elaborates on this in his first epistle: First Peter 1:23 says that we have been born again of incorruptible seed not corruptible seed, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever. In other words, a born-again experience (that which is necessary to obtain salvation) occurs when we hear the Word concerning Jesus and that incorruptible seed is planted in our hearts.
Now Peter had another kind of seed in mind here: He is referring not to a seed of a plant, but to the seed of a man …
The Greek word used in this verse for “seed” is sperma—which is obviously where we get our word “sperm” from. Peter was saying that just as we are physically born after the seed of a man is planted in the womb of a woman, likewise we are spiritually born again after the seed of God is planted in our hearts. Yes, the analogy is correct— When one is born again, he or she has received God’s spiritual seed!
Now we understand that the seed of a man is the carrier of all the nature and attributes of the man that it originated from. Therefore, it should not surprise us that the seed of God that we receive when we hear and receive the gospel contains the nature and attributes of our Heavenly Father! Wow! That is a powerful truth!
Therefore, when we receive the truth of God’s Word, we become born again. This is when God’s divine nature is placed within us—when we receive God’s “seed.” This means that we have received His divine DNA! (Quick little nugget: Did you know they say DNA actually forms letters and words? We are created by His Word!)
When we were born again, we received a new nature that will compel us to grow up to be like our Daddy. Just like we grew up to resemble our natural parents in appearance and personality, likewise we will grow up to resemble our Heavenly Father in spiritual appearance and personality. It is in our spiritual DNA!
And this seed of God has no death abiding in it—only life everlasting! Therefore, we are born again of an incorruptible seed because the Word of God lives and abides forever! Hallelujah! We now have eternal life!
So, I say all of this to say that everything from our physical birth to our spiritual rebirth began with a seed, and this is how all fruit begins—with a seed. Amen! Therefore, if these two awesome miracles originate with a seed, how much more will other miracles begin with a seed? Amen!
So, again, what did Jesus say the seed is? In Mark 4:14, He says that the seed is the Word. Now in Luke’s Gospel, he says the seed is the Word of God (See Luke 8:11). Now Matthew’s gospel details it a little differently— He calls it, “the word of the kingdom” (See Matthew 13:19) So, when you combine these 3 accounts together, Jesus was saying the seed is “the Word of God’s kingdom.”
Now I bring this out because it sparks a very good point: We need to know specifically what kind of seed we are planting. In other words, what is the Word that we are planting? It is not good enough to just be general. We need to be specific and sow specific seed that we want a harvest in. In other words, we need to purpose in our heart to sow seed to where it’s not a passing thought of “Oh yeah, I guess I need to sow something today. Let’s see what I have left.” No! You need to purpose in your heart what you are sowing and guard that seed that’s in the soil. Amen!
You see, sometimes people don’t receive what they need because they are not specific enough. You wouldn’t go into a nursery and just grab a bunch of misc. seeds to sow in your garden or field, would you? You wouldn’t say, “Oh, this looks like a seed. That’s what I need” and take it to go plant. No, you would search out specific seed that you need. But when it comes to picking out the seed, I believe a better way is to ask the Holy Spirit to pick out the seed for you. So, don’t just go about searching out the Scriptures alone. Let the Holy Spirit guide you into all the truth and let Him point you towards the specific seed that you need.
In fact, what you would do is you would look at the packaging or tag of the seed for the image of the fruit, vegetable, or flower that you want to grow. So, you look for the fruit’s image when selecting the specific seed. Likewise, this is what we must do in the spirit; we must see the image of the desired result—so that the image of hope is painted in our heart.
You know, people say things like, “Well, I’m just trusting God.” To do what? How are you trusting Him? What is your trust based on? We need to be specific in our faith!
For example, you will hear people say, “Well, I am just waiting on God!” and what they think that means is that they are waiting on God to do it for them. But no, when David said, “Wait on the Lord, Be of good courage…” (Psalm 27:13), he was not saying we are just passively waiting on God to do whatever He wants to do. No, He is talking about waiting on the Lord in faith and hope! Not a hope that is wishful thinking, but with Bible hope which means to confidently expect.
Well, how can we expect like this? How about when you have sown the seed and you are just waiting from it to pop out of the ground? Amen! This is waiting in faith, because you know the seed has been planted, so you know that there is a harvest coming! It’s just a matter of time!
No, when we are planting a garden, we prepare the ground. We buy specific seed. We systematically sow it. We then guard our garden—sometimes with some pretty extreme measures. We go through certain concentrated and calculated steps to get the fruit, flower, vegetables, etc. we want. And that includes choosing the specific seed for the fruit we want to see.
So why would we do it any different in God’s kingdom? Saints, I’ll tell you, we need to become more deliberate, purposeful and intentional in what we are sowing into our lives—because as a general rule our lives are a today of what we planted yesterday! Amen!
But, as we have already made the point of, you don’t have to be calculated, purposeful, deliberate or intentional to grow weeds, briars and other unwanted plants in your yard, field or garden? All you have to do to produce undesirable fruit is nothing! But good things like cotton, wheat, watermelons, grapes, etc. don’t grow by accident in your yard. It just doesn’t happen!
Saints, always remember, bad fruit comes naturally; good fruit comes intentionally. In other words, things we don’t desire come naturally; things we do desire come deliberately.
So, we’ve seen that God’s Word is seed, and if we want a specific harvest, we need specific seed to sow!
Say, if we need healing, we need to sow God’s Word concerning healing. What we need faith for and we want to see produced in our life, we need to sow in that specific area. For example, finding God’s promises concerning healing and sowing that specific “word” into our situation.
Say, we need a turnaround in our finances: We need to, of course, sow towards the kingdom of God in order to see an increase in our finances. But then we need to water that seed. How? By the washing of water by the Word. Amen? Camp on God’s promises concerning our needs being met and God’s will concerning our finances and sow those specific Words into our hearts.
This even works with our mental & emotional state: Say, you deal with a lot of depression and anxiety & even have been diagnosed with some sort of sickness of the soul. You can find plenty in God’s Word that promises you “prosperity of the soul.” Amen! God’s Word promises us that He restores our soul (Psalm 23:3). It tells us that just as much as Jesus paid for our sins and sickness, He also paid for our peace (Isaiah 53:5). He has given us not only a spirit of power & love, but also of “sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). These are His promises!
So, we need to become strategic and very purposeful regarding what we are sowing in our lives. And since Jesus told us that the seed is God’s Word, then we need to find the promises of God’s Word that we want to see the fruit of and begin to sow those Scriptures into, first, our hearts.
You see, the seed that was sown in this parable—the seed that produced tremendous results in the life of those with good ground—was the Word of God.
But more specifically, it was not just the Word of God that we were born again by. In Matthew’s account, Jesus said that it was “the word of the kingdom.” This goes back to the point we made that the gospel that we are called to share, the New Testament message, is the gospel of the kingdom of God. In other words, it is the message that we are called to share the lost and dying world around us—that God’s kingdom is here now and is available to all of them who will believe in the gospel of the New Testament.
But that was not the end result: In this Parable of the Sower, the Word of God and of His kingdom was not just sent to get us born again; it was also sent to cause to grow into mature sons and daughters of the kingdom. Thank you, Jesus!
You see, as Jesus went on to say in the Parable of the Sower, there were different kinds of hearts that this gospel of the kingdom was sown onto. And depending on the condition of that heart, it would produce different results. In other words, God’s Word not only produced change on the inside of those with good ground; God’s Word effected change on the outside of those with hearts of good ground. What I mean is, they produced fruit to maturity.
So, God’s Word is not just sown in our hearts so that we would be reborn and have God’s kingdom birthed within us; His Word is meant to produce God’s kingdom in a tangible and visible way in our lives. And, friends, this is produced in our lives through the natural example we have seen in the world from the very beginning—seedtime and harvest.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE KINGDOM
Friends, everything in God’s kingdom operates according to this principle.
First, we have the seed. A seed must be God-given. Man has tried to duplicate and clone seeds but to no avail. Sure, they have been successful in cloning something that looks like a seed, but when planted, this man-made seed has no life in itself and does not produce. Why? It is because it has no life in it. We can make something that looks like a seed, but we cannot reproduce the principle of life that is contained in a seed.
Likewise, God’s kingdom begins with a God-given seed. It cannot begin with man. The hand of the Lord must begin anything and everything that is produced in God’s kingdom. It has to be this way because God’s kingdom is always initiated by God and never by man.
So, God gave us the seed: He gave us Jesus and this gospel of the kingdom! He gave to us what we could never have earned. He put in our hand the seed and said, “Now sow this seed that I have entrusted to you on good ground and watch it produce what it was sent to accomplish!
And that is the wonderful promise concerning this gospel of the kingdom: It is that this seed is no respecter of persons. It does not produce differently for one that it does for the other. No, that seed is programmed to produce after its own kind. That means that we all have the same opportunity afforded to us. Verily, verily, I say unto you: His Word will not return void but will accomplish what He sent it to accomplish and to prosper in the thing for which He sent it to do.
That’s right, through His righteousness and justice, God has given each of us the same opportunity to bear a harvest. It is all a matter of what we choose to do with the seed that He has freely given us.
God, in His sovereignty, has given us a choice. And He gave us this choice by first giving us the ability to choose—that is, by giving us the seed. The keys are now in your hands, saints. God has given you the keys to the kingdom! Let’s use those keys!